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  • Phoebe Robertson

Whaikaha Narrows Access to Disability Services, via Facebook Post.

PHOEBE ROBERTSON (she/her), HENRY BROADBENT (he/him)


On Wednesday 20th Whaikaha, the Ministry of Disabled People, revealed their intention to decrease funding for disability support via a troublingly dismissive medium: a Facebook post. While the post mentioned immediate implementation, it did not specify the exact changes being made, or how they would be carried out. The decision was justified on the monetary basis of “increased demand”.


Earlier this year, the Government gave landlords a $2.9 billion-dollar tax break.


Not surprisingly there was immediate backlash, including a change.org petition garnering over 14,000 signatures* [UPDATE: As of 25/03 the petition has reached 24,973 signatures]. Whaikaha claims funding is not being reduced; how disabled people can use their support payments is simply being “clarified”. Advocates like Labour's Disability Issues spokesperson Priyanca Radhakrishnan are emphatic in describing the change as a “cut”. And it is a change that, in “clarifying”, severely narrows the support disabled people can access, including to equipment, carers and transport. 


Criticism was swift, and compounded by the absence of a grace period, a lack of community input, and remarkably indifferent communication. Many individuals who rely on disability services are now uncertain about their future support from the government. One commentator stated: “This is poorly thought out and targeting, yet again, a vulnerable group. As the Ministry of Disabled people it is shocking that you haven’t been more cognisant of these issues, nor communicated earlier.”


Whaikaha later issued an apology for not giving enough notice before implementing the changes, but they have not reversed their harmful policy change.



 

*on the date of publication, 21/03.


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